Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa

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Grilled shrimp tacos with a salsa of fresh mango, avocado, red onion, jalapeño, and lime juice.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

It’s Labor Day weekend and the unofficial end of the summer holidays (though for some kids, school started a couple weeks ago!) We’ve been experimenting with grilled shrimp lately and I thought I’d share this festive shrimp taco for those of you still looking for ideas of what to grill this weekend.

We serve the grilled shrimp in tacos topped with a colorful mango and avocado salsa, which you can easily put together while the grill is heating up. Crazy good!

A few tips for perfect grilled shrimp. First, use large shrimp, they’ll hold their moisture better on the grill and won’t dry out in the time it takes to cook them on high heat.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

If you are using frozen shrimp, defrost them in salty cold water. The water will help them defrost quickly, and the salt in the water will help keep the natural salt in the shrimp from leaching out.

Finally, use two skewers at a time to thread the shrimp. That way the shrimp won’t spin around when you go to turn them over on the grill, and they’ll be less likely to fall off while they cook. Here’s a very short (12 seconds) video of how to thread the shrimp onto skewers:

Have a great weekend!

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa Recipe

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  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Large shrimp grill best (they are less likely to dry out). Look for 16/20 count shrimp (that's 16-20 shrimp per pound). Don't attempt to grill shrimp that are smaller than 26/30 count.

We suggest using peeled and deveined shrimp because of the convenience. But truly the best flavor will come from leaving the shell on while grilling. You can cut the back with sharp scissors and devein them before grilling if you want to leave the shells on. The shrimp will absorb flavor from the cooking shell, and it holds the moisture better.

We defrost shrimp in salty cold water because soaking in water is the fastest way to defrost shrimp, and if you soak the shrimp in plain water it will leach out the natural salt in the shrimp. The salty water helps the shrimp maintain their natural salt.

Ingredients

Grilled Shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp (16/20 count) peeled and deveined (frozen is fine)
  • 1 quart water (4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cubed ice
  • Olive oil
  • Skewers for grilling, if bamboo, soak in water for an hour

Mango Avocado Salsa:

  • 1 ripe but still firm mango, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 ripe avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut into small cubes
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño pepper (less or more to taste), minced
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Tortillas:

  • 10 to 12 corn or flour tortillas

Method

1 Defrost frozen shrimp: If you are starting with frozen shrimp, put a quart of cold water in a large bowl and add a tablespoon of salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Add the shrimp and several large ice cubes. Let sit until defrosted (keep ice in the water).

If your shrimp is fresh or already defrosted, if you want you can put the shrimp in salty water for 15 minutes or until you are ready to thread skewers and grill the shrimp.

2 Prepare the salsa: Place the chopped mango, avocado, red onion, jalapeño in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and gently toss with fresh lime or lemon juice. Add fresh cilantro (if using) right before serving.

3 Prepare your grill for high direct heat (you'll know it's hot enough when you can hold your hand 1 inch above the grill grates for 1 second).

4 Thread the shrimp onto skewers: Use two bamboo skewers at a time to thread the shrimp.  This will make it easier to turn and keep the shrimp from spinning on the skewer.

Starting at the big end of the shrimp, hold the shrimp in a tight spiral like the shape of an apostrophe. Starting at the large end of the shrimp, thread the 2 skewers through the shrimp, starting at the big end and going through the smaller end, right before the tail section.

Thread 3 to 4 or more on a skewer, depending on how long your skewers are, leaving a little space between each shrimp so that the shrimp cook evenly.

Brush shrimp with a thin coating of olive oil on both sides.

5 Grill the shrimp: Brush hot grill with a wadded up paper towel soaked in olive oil. Place the skewers of shrimp on the hot grill. Grill for 2-5 minutes per side, depending on how hot your grill is and how big your shrimp are.

The cut end of the shrimp will change from translucent to opaque as it cooks. It's done when it is just barely opaque. Take it off the grill. Don't overcook or your shrimp will be rubbery!

Remove the shrimp from the skewers when they are still relatively hot (they'll slide off better when warm).

6 Warm the tortillas: Depending on the type of tortilla you are using (flour tortillas work well, as do soft white corn tortillas), you can put them on the grill for a few moments to toast them just a little on each side.

You can also warm tortillas in a microwave (works well to soften them), or in a frying pan. If warming corn tortillas in a frying pan, it helps to add a little oil to the pan.

To serve, place a few shrimp in the center of a tortilla and top with mango avocado salsa!

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Links:

Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema from the Beeroness

Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream from Life's Ambrosia

Firecracker Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa from Kevin and Amanda

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

6 Comments

  1. christine Merlino

    “Kick this recipe up a notch “by lighty tossing with the olive or canola oil, and sprinkling some cayene pepper and garlic powder onto the raw shrimp before grilling. Serve over RICE if you do not want to do tacos…(.omit the salsa) ….To Die for!

  2. Amy

    These were so good, I made them twice in one week! I had bought two pounds of shrimp because they were on sale that way. So, over the weekend, I made these with some grilled corn. Then I had leftovers of all the salsa ingredients as well, so later in the week I made them again! So, so good! Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

  3. Stacy

    Winner, winner, shrimp taco dinner!!

  4. franky

    I learned a grilling technique where you can skip the skewers and still grill the shrimp. Use a perforated grill wok! It looks like a wok or a skillet with little holes in them. The idea is to cook shrimp, veggies, or any other food over the flames that might otherwise slip through the grates. Available at most bbq supply store; I even saw one at Wal-Mart for $6. It has been a time-saver and no more messy hands. Great recipe Elise

  5. Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    This looks delicious Elise! I’ve never thought to thaw shrimp is salted water (I always just use plain water). But that is a GREAT tip. Thanks for sharing!

    • IMHO

      Use coarse sea salt.

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Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Mango SalsaGrilled Shrimp Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa